Meridian, Miss. When Meridian City Council members vote on a budget for next year, Ward 5 Councilman Randy Hammon says everything is in place for them to approve more money to address infrastructure problems within blighted neighborhoods.
"We've been asking for cuts with like insurance from the power company and everything," says Hammon. "We've been looking at these to get those monies so we have that in the budget, and we've already got the 2%. So, we can put that in the budget to forward the program."
Hammon says the $600,000 plus for the initiative will reflect about 2% of the city's anticipated budget for next year. For this year the council approved less than 1% of the budget for the initiative. Hammon says prior to that, in more recent years, no funding had been allotted to address the problem.
"The 2% is an active program to deal with ordinances and with homes before they become abandoned. To help the homeowners, that's what other cities do. They work with you, and they help you with your home, or if you can't prove hardship they make you comply with the ordinances."
Looking ahead to next year's budget, Hammon says that city officials are also taking other steps to address the problem in an even more cost effective way.
"We'll also have in the budget for the Public Works Department, a way to tear these homes down ourselves. We're already training people, cross training them on asbestos abatement, and we're also getting a program in place where we can deal with the homes before they go down."
Talks on the new budget are expected to start around September, with a budget for the new fiscal year approved by the time that it starts on October 1st.